In America we like to say “I’m a self-made man/woman,” or “I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps.” We like to bask in accomplishment, or as Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.” It makes us wonder if is grace enough. Don’t we need to do good works for God to love us?
We like to receive credit for accomplishments, and many will pridefully refuse to admit that they got any help doing it. With that mindset at the forefront, many believe that eternal life is accomplished through what we DO, not what we believe. Arguments to the contrary only serve to marginalize our efforts.
We can all be saved by GRACE!
Is grace enough? Yes it is. The Apostle Paul tells it like this:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Perhaps we are stuck in in the proverbial “which came first the chicken or the egg” question. From the very beginning, God has not instructed us, commanded us or otherwise done anything to limit us, but in all things has treated us with compassion, kindness and most of all patience. He strives to establish a forever relationship we us in a perfect and Holy utopia. It is all about Him.
When we sin, we are shown the error and gently beckoned to repent. That, however, is not always received well.
But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord. (Isaiah 26:10)
Grace is simple, but also very complicated.
Grace is so very simple, yet extraordinarily complicated. On the on hand, like children, we are corrected by our Father and asked to do nothing other than have that conversation with Him.
But our own sense of pride and importance demands that we play a major role in determining our fate. You don’t just give something away for nothing. Somebody has to get paid.
Grace doesn’t make sense. Those who deserve God’s love and acceptance are the ones who should benefit from His provision. But long before God’s final sacrifice we were told that The Lord Jesus Christ would be the answer to the problem.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zechariah 12:10)
We want to follow the rules but avoid submission.
We still would rather believe in the Law than in grace. That is, by following the Law we are vindicated.
We think we can follow the Law and we may even want to follow the Law because we know it’s good, but the attempt always ends up in failure.
We believe that we are good enough
Still, if we believe we can be good enough, then everything is fine. But the Law given to Moses for our benefit, was not complete by any means. Jesus completed it.
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17)
Paul, the former Pharisee, had a full understanding of grace and his relationship with God. His expression of gratitude is not self-deprecating, but an understanding that God’s grace is not only sufficient, but is everything man needs for salvation.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
We are to do God’s work out of love not to earn points
Paul did his ministry work out of love and appreciation, not to earn points. God desires that we love the law and want to follow it. We’re not forced, we’re invited. God does not watch and wait for us to turn away so that he can punish us. No, He is there for us, to guide and instruct.
Grace is truly amazing, because when we realize the enormity of God’s grace, even at a cursory level, we can begin to understand how much we are loved. Paul said his works were as filthy rags. He was right.